Bresaola is a very lean type of air-dried and salted beef that originated in Valtellina, in the Lombardy region of the Italian Alps. Bresaola has an IGP trademark (protected geographical indication). This means that only certified master butches in the Lombardy region are authorised to produce this meat.

The word bresaola is from the Lombard term bresada, which means braised. The most common type of meat used in bresaola is beef, but you can also find horse, venison, and pork varieties. The cut of beef traditionally used is top (inside) round, to make a lean and tender meat with a sweet, musty scent. It is similar to prosciutto in terms of leanness, and close to pastrami when it comes to flavour.

How do you make bresaola?

Bresaola’s unique flavour is thanks to its trimming process. The fat is first removed from the meat, and then it is seasoned with a dry rub of salt and spices. Juniper berries, cinnamon, caraway seeds, coriander, clove, garlic, and nutmeg are the most typical spices used for the dry rub. After this stage, the meat is left to cure for several days, followed by a drying period of 1 -3 months. The weight of the bresaola determines the length of the drying period. The key to a good bresaola is ageing the meat for two or three months. After this point, it should harden and turn a dark red – almost purple – colour. Up to 40% of the meat’s weight will be lost during the ageing phase.

How do you serve bresaola?

Bresaola is cut into paper-thin slices, making it ideal for carpaccio as part of an antipasti. First arrange overlapped slices on the plate, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and lemon, and sprinkle arugula over the top. Finish off with sprinkles of Parmigiano-Reggiano and salt and pepper. For something extra special, add thinly sliced truffles or marinated mushrooms. It tastes best with “heavy” red wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and on special occasions with the noblest of the Tuscan wines of Brunello di Montalcino.